Christmas 2016 had seen a much debated event online. Supposedly, carol groups had been popping up around other religious precincts, with one carol group photographed standing next to a mosque, while another was shown standing right in front of the Wong Tai Sin Temple. Religious adherents from those religious establishment did not offer much protest, but the majority of Hong Kongers online seems to take offence to these carols, lambasting the groups of disrespecting other religious faiths of their rights to their own beliefs, with those on the extreme end declaring that it would not be missed if Muslim extremists eradicated Christians from the face of the Earth. As a Christian and an emissary of the Lord, I do not see the need to antagonise Christianity due to a somewhat self-centred action, but neither would I excuse those Christians for provoking condemnation.
The Lord’s Great Commission – before He resumed His place in Heaven after His resurrection from death – which He gave unto all His disciples, is for us to spread His gospel (good news) to the ends of the Earth. Carolling during Christmas is part of the Great Commission, whereby Christians proclaim the birth of the Lord Christ, the day where God began His work in reconciling sinful humanity with Himself, to non-Christians, telling them the good news and reminding fellow Christians of what Christmas is about. Non-Christians shouldn’t feel any pressure to convert from these carols; you can either take it or leave it. Some critics rightly understand that Christmas carols’ purpose is to evangelise, but ask why it has to be Christmas. Well, as I said, carols are to proclaim the birth of Christ and His mission, when better than the day to celebrate His birth into the world? If we were to sing carols at other days of the year, it would be like singing happy birthday to someone, when it’s not even their birthday.
The general criticism is that singing carols alongside another religious faith’s precinct is disrespectful of other people’s right to their own faith, as well as being seen trying to take ‘customers’ away from other religions. Firstly, in a truly free-to-speak, free-to-express, religiously free society, anyone and everyone should have the right to proclaim the message of their faith anywhere and anytime. Why then can’t Christians? Okay, I can hear you say that proclaiming the Christian faith next to a non-Christian religious precinct is attempting to deny other people’s right to their beliefs, but whether those people choose to remain steadfast in their faith, or to be attracted to the Christian message, is that not their choice? Who are you to deny their change of choice? For me, while I can understand people feel slighted by such an act, I can also say it’s just merely offering a choice that you can either take or leave.
The idea that those carol groups is taking other religions’ ‘customers’ away, that adherents provide a religious precincts’ their source of income, again I would say, whether the person choose to remain steadfast in their believe, or convert to the Christian faith, is their choice and not yours. While adherents do provide income for those operating the religious precinct, it is not the primary purpose of Christianity, so the perception we are trying to tear away other religions’ customers for our own gains is silly, for as Christ demonstrated in clearing out the Temple with a whip, He does not condone using God or the Church for commercial purpose. So don’t frame Christians of something not supposedly condoned in the Christian faith.
However, I can understand why non-Christians in Hong Kong often felt antagonised by Christians. From my experience, Hong Kong Christians can be overbearing and patronising, often with the tactless holier-than-thou, adult-to-child attitudes towards non-Christians. It is not just limited to non-Christians, it happens between Christians of different sects and churches, where those with criticism against certain teachings, or those with different levels of understanding, are looked down upon with contempt, or lambasted for having doubts and questioning the church. Moreover, Christians in Hong Kong are often either pro-establishment (supportive of the ruling system in Hong Kong) or overly-pacifist, thus incurring the ire of anti-china Hong Kongers and Hong Kong localists, which constitute a significant portion of those roaming online in Facebook or the various discussion forums.
Being the emissary of the Lord, I would like to point out a few excerpts from the Bible, for those Christians being accused of disrespect and provocation, namely Matthew 23:13, 1 Corinthians 10:32 and 2 Corinthians 6:3. While we Christians know that God is the only God, and Christ His only son, and that as Christians we have a privileged understanding of reality, we should not be the stumbling block for those not yet Christians, for we hold the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, and it is through ourselves as an example to the world that non-Christians would come to realise the truth in the gospel of the Lord Christ. We are here, in this world, to be the light of the world, the lamp atop the hill to shine the light of truth for others to see the way of the Almighty; and not to be the object of non-Christians’ revulsion. Who are we to foresee whether or not someone may come to faith in Christ because of our actions?
Finally, for those who said it would be better if Islamic extremists eradicate Christianity from the face of the Earth, many freedoms and rights people enjoy today around the world, and in Hong Kong, came about from the efforts of true Christians trying to live out the Kingdom of Heaven: end-to-slavery, monogamy, modern democracy, popular access to health and education, universal freedoms and rights and the equality of people. True, historically there were a great deal of people who committed heinous atrocities against humanity in the name of Christ, yet many of humanity’s greatest achievements came about through the efforts of true disciples of Christ our Lord. In a world without Christians, human societies would decay and fall back to a Darwinian world of the survival of the fittest.